Do I Need an Oral Cancer Screening?
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Many people forget that a trip to the dentist isn’t just an opportunity to get your teeth cleaned. It is also a time for an oral cancer screening.
What Is Oral Cancer?
Oral cancer is a type of cancer that grows around the mouth or throat. It usually appears as a sore or a growth in the mouth area that doesn’t heal.
Oral cancer is an all-encompassing term for cancers of the:
- The floor of the mouth
- The hard and soft palate
Like all cancers, oral cancer is extremely serious and can be life-threatening if not diagnosed and treated early.
What Are Oral Cancer Screenings?
Early cancer detection is one of the leading indicators of successful treatment plans. The goal is to diagnose pre-cancers and cancers before any symptoms occur. This is accomplished with in-depth screenings of the cheeks, gums, lips, and tonsils for lesion diagnosis.
While many dentists conduct oral cancer screenings manually, Dr. Fiss, in addition to manual screening, uses a VELscope®, an FDA-approved cancer-screening tool that helps with early detection.
Who Should Get Oral Cancer Screenings?
Anyone can get oral cancer, but certain individuals are at a higher risk for this disease. You should get frequent oral cancer screenings if you:
- Are a smoker or use tobacco products in any form
- Are a regular drinker
- Have had oral cancer in the past
- Have a family history of oral cancer
- Spend a lot of time in the sun, making you a high risk for oral cancer on the lips
- Have gotten some types of HPV through oral sex
- Are experiencing oral cancer symptoms
It is estimated that 50,000 Americans are diagnosed with oral cancer annually. The American Cancer Society states that men are twice as likely to have oral cancer. Men over 50 are especially at high risk.
What Are Potential Oral Cancer Symptoms?
Potential symptoms include:
- Sores on your mouth or lips
- Unexplained oral bleeding
- Red or white patches in the mouth
- Sensitivity or numbness in the mouth, neck, or face
- Difficulty swallowing or chewing
- Ear pain
- Dramatic weight loss
If you think you have oral cancer symptoms, book an appointment with Dr. Fiss immediately. Early detection is vital as you don’t want to delay treatment.
Would You Benefit From an Oral Cancer Screening?
Taking care of your teeth by visiting the dentist regularly is an essential part of your overall health and can also save your life.
Make sure you see Dr. Fiss at least once a year so they can conduct oral cancer screenings during your check-in. If you are at a higher-risk, you may want to visit the dentist more often.